WFP chief says agency preparing for wave of Idlib refugees

A Syrian rebel fighter of the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front checks his machine gun on the front line with government forces in the southeast of Idlib province

The deal also foresees rebel groups leaving the area by 15 October.

It comes a month after a deal was struck between Russian Federation and Turkey to avert a planned regime offensive on the opposition province, which required the exclusion of rebel heavy weaponry from the front-lines.

The deal to create a 15-20 kilometre wide zone came after a flurry of activity as Turkey sought to avoid an assault by Damascus and a further influx of people across its border.

"No heavy weapon is now visible in the buffer zone", indicated to the AFP the director of the syrian Observatory human rights (OSDH), Rami Abdel Rahmane.

He said the removal of weapons and Turkey's fortification of its observation posts in Idlib will provide many benefits to the people of the region.

The jihadists of HTS as well as the islamic Party of Turkistan (TIP) and Houras al-Din control more than two-thirds of the future buffer zone.

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The pro-Ankara National Liberation Front said it finished pulling out its heavy weapons on Monday.

The source said HTS was satisfied that the presence of the Turkish troops, whose numbers have been increased in recent weeks, would prevent any Russian-backed government offensive. The NLF is the main Turkey-backed rebel alliance in the Idlib region, but jihadist heavyweight HTS and other hardliners hold a large part of the province and the proposed zone.

The agreement dictated that heavy weapons, tanks, rocket systems and mortars of all opposition groups would be withdrawn by October 10, and the zone will be monitored by coordinated Turkish and Russian patrols.

Despite progress in implementing the terms of the deal, Assad on Sunday said the arrangement would not become permanent.

"The agreement is a temporary measure through which the state has realised many achievements on the ground starting with stemming the bloodshed", he was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad have retaken swathes of territory in Syria since Russian Federation entered the war in September 2015.

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